Stephen Wellum, in the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible. Before we can understand why systematic theology is essential, we must first understand what it is. There’s no single definition of systematic theology, but at its heart it’s the discipline captured by the phrase “faith seeking understanding.” Systematic theology builds on the results of biblical theology. Biblical theology is the exegetical discipline that seeks to grasp the entirety of Scripture as the unfolding of God’s plan from Genesis to Revelation. Starting with Scripture as God’s Word written through human authors—our final authority (sola scriptura) for what we think about God, ourselves, and the world—biblical theology seeks to “put together” the entire canon in a way that’s true to God’s intent. Systematic theology then applies the truths gained in biblical theology to every aspect of our lives. It leads to doctrinal formulation—what we ought to believe and how we ought to live—warranted by the canon and done in light of historical theology. In
Scott R. Swain: 1. Systematic theology exists because the God who knows and loves himself in the bliss of the Trinity is pleased to make himself an object of creaturely knowledge and love through holy Scripture. Theology in its essence is “wisdom”—a knowledge that is ordered to love (practical wisdom), and a love that rests in knowledge (contemplative wisdom). More specifically, theology is wisdom about God and all things in relation to God. This wisdom exists first and foremost in God: God knows and loves himself in the bliss of his triune life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:10–11). This wisdom exists secondarily and derivatively in creatures because God is pleased to make us happy by making us friends in the knowledge and love of himself (John 10:14–15; 15:15; 17:3; 1 Cor. 2:12). Though not the only source for the knowledge and love of God (see Psalm 19; Rom 1-2), holy Scripture is the supreme
Michael Lawrence: What Is the Good News? Biblical Theology’s Answer Let’s consider how both biblical theology and systematic theology are important and relate to each other when we try to answer the most basic of ministry questions: What is the gospel? What is the good news that the Bible reveals to us? When biblical theology comes to this question, it lays out the grand sweep of God’s actions in history. That sweep might be described as the movement from Creation ➜ Fall ➜ Redemption ➜ New Creation. Notice that this outline follows the narrative of Scripture itself. It explains what God is doing across redemptive history as that history moves from the garden of Eden to the new heavens and new earth. The Good News of the Kingdom Biblical theology also talks about the gospel in terms of the kingdom of God. George Eldon Ladd has forever changed the way all of us think about this kingdom. As Ladd observed,
From God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. What Is Systematic Theology? Biblical theology provides the basis for understanding how texts in one part of the Bible relate to all other texts, according to God’s intention, which is discovered through human authors but ultimately at the canonical level. In the end, biblical theology is the attempt to think through the “whole counsel of God,” and it provides the basis and underpinning for all theologizing. If this is what biblical theology is, then what is systematic theology? As with “biblical theology,” there are various ideas as to what “systematic theology” is. It is not necessary to delve into all of these diverse views; rather, we will simply state how we conceive of the discipline. For our purposes, we will employ the definition given by John Frame: systematic theology is “the application of God’s Word by persons to all areas
Tom Schreiner (part two of a three part essay): The solution to the problems of shallow preaching … is really quite simple: pastors must learn how to use biblical theology in their preaching. Yet learning how to do that requires us to begin by asking, what is biblical theology? Biblical vs. Systematic Theology Biblical theology, in contrast to systematic theology, focuses on the biblical storyline. Systematic theology, though it is informed by biblical theology, is atemporal. Don Carson argues that biblical theology stands closer to the text than systematic theology, aims to achieve genuine sensitivity with respect to the distinctiveness of each corpus, and seeks to connect the diverse corpora using their own categories. Ideally, therefore, biblical theology stands as a kind of bridge discipline between responsible exegesis and responsible systematic theology (even though each of these inevitably influences the other two). In other words, biblical theology restricts itself more consciously to the message of the text or corpus under consideration.
Kevin DeYoung: I love systematic theology. I have for a long time. I plan on immersing myself in it for the rest of my life. I hope my congregation will too. I hope especially that pastors will make the study of systematic theology a lifelong pursuit. Yes, I really believe systematic theology is that important. Objections Against But, unfortunately, systematic theology often gets a bad rap. It’s not unusual to find even pastors and professors dismissing dogmatics as an inferior version of the real stuffyou get from exegetical or redemptive-historical theology. Of course, those are crucial too (and every good systematic theology will be built on both), but systematic theology is just as crucial, no matter the objections. Objection 1: Systematic theology is not even possible.While it’s certainly true that we cannot know God as God knows himself, we can nevertheless know God truly. Theologians have long made the distinction between archetypal knowledge (which only God has) and ectypal knowledge
Monergism: Biblical theology and systematic theology are two different manners of arranging the teaching of the scriptures. Biblical theology seeks to understand the progressive unfolding of God’s special revelation throughout history, whereas systematic theology seeks to present the entire scriptural teaching on certain specific truths, or doctrines, one at a time. Biblical theology is thus historical and chronological in its design; and in fact, a close synonym for biblical theology, at least in its wide-angle task of accounting for all of special revelation, is the term “redemptive history”. Biblical theology is not always pursued in so broad a fashion, however; sometimes, certain themes are approached in a biblical theological manner; for instance, a biblical theology of holy space in worship would seek to understand how that specific motif unfolded in redemptive history, from the beginning of revelation until the end. Another narrower application of biblical theology would be the study of the unfolding of revelation during a specific time period